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Que pasa, State of Hockey legion? May I be the first to bid you a happy Revolution Anniversary or Aniversario de la Revolucion to our Wild fans south of the border in Mexico. Of course, I don't need to tell Wild fans that on this day 99 years ago, the war to overthrow Mexican dictator Porfirio Diaz began. The Revolution eventually triumphed and in that spirit, let's get to talking about the other reason for me being in my perch in the Al Shaver Press Box at the Xcel Energy Center, the Wild's impending triumph over the New York Islanders.
Now, I am going to have to break some bad news right off the bat. Brent Burns is not going to be playing tonight. He is out with an illness, but I don't have word on what the problem is, so we'll call it "undisclosed" I just know that he's not playing, and that the Wild is still going to win. How do I know this? Well, first, that's what Minnesotans do. We pull through the tough times. Second, we've got Little Herb Brooks on our side tonight. He's been making the rounds all over the Xcel Energy Center tonight, and he'll have the boys ready to play after making his "Miracle" speech earlier today. We will have video of that on Wild.com shortly after the game.
So we don't have Burns, but we do have Niklas Backstrom
, which brings me to reason number three. Niklas Backstrom
doesn't lose to the New York Islanders. He just doesn't. He's undefeated in his career against them (3-0-0) and I'm watching him in pregame warmups right now. "A" game? Check mark.
Yes, the injury list is growing by the day. Burns is on there. Marty Havlat (hamstring) is on there. Chuck Kobasew (lower body), Benoit Pouliot (upper body), Petr Sykora (concussion) and Pierre-Marc Bouchard
are all on there as well. Every cloud has a silver lining, and that comes in the form of guys like Robbie Earl, Danny Irmen and Nathan Smith, who was recalled today. I'm expecting a hat trick from each of them tonight.The other bright side is Big John Scott, one of the nicest guys in the world, is going to be back in the lineup.
Let's talk a little fashion. The Wild will don the home reds for this one tonight. The Isles will go with the road whites trimmed in orange and blue with Long Island on the chest.
Five-year-old Josh Sacco got this crowd going by giving his speech in the Wild locker room, and now, he gets us started with the "Let's Play Hockey" declaration. Nailed it! Now let's go out there and TAKE it!Period 1
18:01 - I swore I'd never do what I just did with any of the celebrities that do the Let's Play Hockey declaration, but I just got my photo taken with Mr. Sacco.
17:05 - Clutterbuck slams Mark Streit into the near boards, and then he has some words with Jom Sim, who I bet owns the shortest name in the National Hockey League. I wonder if that's what Clutterbuck said to him. That would be hurtful.
15:25 - Welcome back Mr. Smith! Right off a faceoff at center ice, Nathan Smith drops the gloves with Nate Thompson at center ice. Smith lands a number of blows, and then after the refs break it up, he turns to the crowd and screams, "Are you not entertained? Are you NOT entertained?" Okay, that last part didn't happen, but let's pretend it did.
14:44 - The Wild are an angry bunch tonight. They're not taking guff from anybody. Mikko Koivu
and former Gopher Kyle Okposo come together at center ice and exchange some shoves and words.
8:33 - The line of James Sheppard, Owen Nolan and Eric Belanger buzzes the net, and Sheppard pubs a nice low backhand on goal. Marty Biron makes a pad save, and then stops the rebound from Belanger, who is right on the doorstep. There is a mad scramble, but the puck is underneath Biron and he finally gets the whistle. 8:16 - MIN 1 - NYI 0 - Hot diggity! We've got ourselves a 1-0 ballgame as Nolan races to the corner to retrieve a loose puck. He just flips the puck toward the goal from the endboards and he picked his spot just right. The puck caroms off the pad of Biron and bounces into the net. It's got to be the wicked cool handle bar mustache that Nolan broke out this morning.
4:01 - An Islander shot from the point is tipped perfectly by (Hans and) Frans Nielsen, who fools Backstrom with the tip but the puck hits the post and bounces out of harm's way.
2:04 - Here we go again. Just inside the Wild zone, Sherriff Shane Hnidy and former Minnesota State Mankato Maverick Tim Jackman drop the gloves. They both start wailing away on each other. The bout ends when Hnidy goes down and Jackman lands on top of him. Hnidy is going to get an extra two and a 10 for instigating, and I have no idea why this is. Poor Robbie Earl is going to have to serve the penalty not long after he already served one for a bench minor for Too Many Men.
0:00 - A lead is always good, but when you're missing half your lineup, it's ex
pecially sweet. Now the boys just need to rehydrate for a bit.Period 2
18:23 - Andrew Brunette leads a two-on-one with Antti Miettinen on his right side. With an Islander catching up to the less-than-lightning quick Bruno, he dishes off to Mittens who fires a shot that Biron knocks down with the waffle glove.16:53 - MIN 1 - NYI 1 - Short name or no, Sim gets this thing deadlocked by streaking up the right side. He takes a nice feed from Trent Hunter and quickly wrists a low shot that squeaks through the leg pillows of Backstrom.
15:50 - Big opportunity for the Wild, who will have 1:36 of a 5-on-3 advantage as Sean Bergenheim takes a hooking penalty.
15:01 - Nothing doing yet. Koiuv is set up perfectly by Miettinen in front, but his one-timer is stopped beautifully by Biron.
14:20 - Biron again comes up big, robbing Mittens on the doorstep.
13:49 - The Wild threat is neutralized as Bergenheim steps out of the box. Let's hope Big Mo doesn't jump over the Isles' side after this development.
11:27 - Clutterbuck wanted this hit, and Okposo wanted nothing to do with it. The win goes to Okposo after Clutter softly dumps the puck in and then lets the former Gopher go to get it. Clutterbuck gets all of his hips into this check, but Okposo is an agile fellow and he dances out of the way letting the glass take the brunt of the hit.9:37 - MIN 1 - NYI 2 - Advantage Islanders. Sim is looking like an All-Star tonight even though he came into the game with a goal and two assists. He races behind the Wild net and dishes a beautiful pass to Josh Bailey, who picks his spot on the short side and beats Backstrom. This just goes to show that if you make fun of a guys short last name, you're eventually going to pay the price. Let's hope Cal learned his lesson.
5:39 - Can we get Dwayne Roloson back in the Islander net? I love the guy, but he struggles against us. Biron doesn't seem to have the same problems as Rolie the Goalie. He commits grand larceny on Koivu's shot off a perfect cross crease feed. Biron doesn't even know where the puck is but he gets help from his blueliners who clear the crease. Not only that, but watching Roloson go bat dung crazy whenever a player gets in his crease is free entertainment.
3:03 - If Mel Kiper was a hockey expert instead of a college football draft expert, he would say that Clutterbuck has a "tremendous motor." The guy doesn't quit and he angers Bergenheim by plastering him into the backboards. The two exchange words and Hnidy and Okposo also get involved. Needless to say, Clutter is not staying quiet through the ordeal.
2:36 - Biron is giving Koivu fits. Mittens finds his captain cruising down the slots and he quickly fires a shot off but Biron quickly slides over and catches it in his jersey logo. Period 3
13:27 - Sim is quickly working his way off of my Christmas card list. On a delayed Islander penalty, he tries to goad the Sherriff into a fight to try and even things up. Hnidy is too smart for that. He's not going anywhere. 13:02 - MIN 2 - NYI 2 - That's what I'm talking about! Koivu was not going to be denied tonight. He gets into the spot where he's been lurking all night, and that's right in front of the net. Some nice zig-zagging passes end up in the net when Marek Zidlicky throws a perfect pass right to El Capitan, and he puts it home past a diving Biron.
8:50 - The Wild comes within an inch of grabbing the lead as Hnidy makes a pretty play, faking a slapper and then sending a hard pass to the left edge of the goal for Mittens, who reaches his stick out for the tip, but it just misses wide.
2:00 - Okposo has some room down the right side and he whistles a hard wrister on the short side, but Backstrom gets his glove up and snares that with the lobster mitt.1:07 - MIN 3 - NYI 2 - Sweet Sassy Molassy! Owen Nolan, you are not allowed to shave that thing off your face. Getting dumped on his rump in front of the New York net works out perfectly for the man we call "Cowboy." As he gets up, he sees Belanger make a perfect hold of the zone at the blue line and he sends a high wrister toward the net where only Nolan is standing. He reaches up with his glove, drops the puck down and slams it home to give the Wild the lead. The grizzled vet lets out a roar as he gets mobbed by his teammates.
0:00 - It's party time State of Hockey! The Wild comes back and takes this one in improbable fashion.